Written by Cindy Little
Published by Shroud Publishing
Publication Date: 2008
Format: Black & White – 68 pages
“I could feel a smirk pull at the corner of my mouth as I came closer to Jennie. It was one of those odd, inappropriate responses that came at the most unexpected times- like at church or when I had to take Jennie to the doctor for her shots. I remember her lying on the examining room table screaming in agony, confusion, and pure terror as the nurses gave her the injections. They’d asked me to help hold her and calm her while they were stabbing her little thighs simultaneously with long, sharp needles. As I leaned over Jennie and gently held her down, I kept my face close to hers and turned away from the nurses. I was shaking the whole time- not with tears, but with laughter.”
I’m pretty sure that I won’t surprise anyone when I say that horror is a bit of a sausage fest. Men everywhere but very few women and those few face the Laura K. Hamilton/Stephanie Meyer supernatural romance stereotype. Even worse, far too many seem to play into that expectation or try so hard to fight against it that their work comes across as a crude caricature of masculinity (Poppy Z. Brite at her worst comes to mind). Blessing upon the wee people that Intruder is one of those tasty morsels that manages to be truly horrific from a solidly feminine perspective.
Carol is a whisper from a 50s sitcom dream, a stay-at-home mom living the sweet suburban American dream. She has a loving husband, a nice house in a friendly neighborhood and a beautiful baby girl that she loves to death. Or, at least, she’s been trying to. She’s been having thoughts. Atrocious thoughts about the tiny wonder that she is supposed to protect and nurture. No one seems to understand, help is in short supply and the urges are getting harder to ignore.
First and foremost, this is a rip-roaring 68 pages of “holy crap what the hell was that?” that had me glued ooey-gooey to the pages. There’s blood, there’s violence, there’re cat guts flying everywhere and a crazy old man down the street! The central issue is infanticide! What more can you look for in a horror story?
What’s that? Now you want a striking narrative with characters you actually care about? I’m not supposed to do this, so don’t tell my supervisor, but I’ll throw in an honestly written heroine in a type of peril that cuts to our deepest genetic programming. The heart of this tale is one of the best permutations of one of the most primal fears we have: an attack on our young. Even those of us without children know the need to keep them safe from harm, but how do you do that when you are the threat? I just gave you that for free, but don’t tell anyone.
That aspect is what locked me on this book. As a man, there is no way in hell that I could have any clue what postpartum depression is like. At the same time, I do know what it is like to realize that you are thinking bad things, horrible hideous things that you know damn well will probably end with you locked in a padded cell. The loneliness, desperation and fear for and of yourself are crippling. The attempts to pretend that everything is fine can eventually overwhelm you and tear your world apart at the seams. That is what I was feeling from Carol and for once, I began to glimpse a sense of what that sh*t must be like for a woman to go through.
Experiences like this, ones that take me entirely out of myself and into the troubles and turmoil of others are why I got so damn excited about reading in the way back long ago. To be able to convey something like this to someone who, by all rights, should have no idea whatsoever about it speaks for itself. Cindy’s unbridled honesty and unmitigated guts need to be applauded. This book needs to be read. I need to see more from her.
Available from Shroud Publishing
Also available from Amazon